This electronic edition is funded by the National Library of Medicine History of Medicine Division. This text has been proofread to a high degree of accuracy. It was converted to electronic form using Data Entry. (Medical Information Disclaimer:
It is not the intention of NLM to provide specific medical advice but rather to provide users with information to better understand their health and their diagnosed disorders. Specific medical advice will not be provided, and NLM urges you to consult with a qualified physician for diagnosis and for answers to your personal questions.)
[p. 243]yourself in an animal, if you will try to hit upon the time at which the descent of food from the stomach takes place. But even if you should fail to discover the time, and nothing was yet passing down, and the food was still undergoing digestion in the stomach, still even then you would find dissection not without its uses. You will observe, as we have just said, that the pylorus is accurately closed, and that the whole stomach is in a state of contraction upon the food very much as the womb contracts upon the foetus. For it is never possible to find a vacant space in the uterus, the stomach, or in either of the two bladders- that is, either in that called bile-receiving
or in the other; whether their contents be abundant or scanty, their cavities are seen to be replete and full, owing to the fact that their coats contract constantly upon the contents- so
long, as least, as the animal is in a natural condition.
Now Erasistratus for some reason declares that it is the contractions
More exactly peristole; cf. p. 97, note 1.
of the stomach which are the cause of everything- that is to say, of the softening of the food,
Neuburger says of Erasistratus that "dissection had taught him to think in terms of anatomy." It was chiefly the gross movements or structure of organs with which he conerned himself. Wehre an organ had no obvious function, he dubbed it "useles"; e.g. the spleen (cf. p. 143).
the removal of waste matter, and the absorption of the food when chylified [emulsified].
Now I have personally, on countless occasions, divided the peritoneum of a still living animal and have always found all the intestines contracting peristaltically
i.e. contracting and dilating; no longitudinal movements involved; cf. p. 263, note 2.
upon their contents. The condition of the stomach, however, is found less simple; as regards the substances freshly swallowed, it had grasped these accurately both above and below, in fact at every point, and was as devoid of movement